BeeBCamp – what is it?

BBC White CityWhat is it?

BeeBCamp is an internal, barcamp style ‘unconference‘ happening on Tuesday, 28th October from 9:30am in White City. It has been organised to bring 60 – 80 BBC employees from various locations around the UK together. Every one has an interest, a passion, a hobby or a particular area of expertise. Here, everyone gets the opportunity to share so that we can all learn from, and get to know, each other.

Why do we need one?

We don’t need one, but a few of us thought it would be a good idea. Face-to-face meetings in London W12 (White City, Media Centre, Broadcast Centre and TV Centre) account for so much of our time and attention that it can often feel like a bit of a hive. Those of us who work there can sometimes forget that the outlying ‘nations and regions’, including even other bits of London, can feel a bit more distant than they should. Whether it’s via internal blogs or external tools (blogs, Twitter, Yammer, Flickr), we may build relationships online but it’s hard to start them that way. We hoped that having a physical get-together, in which we put names to faces (and Twitter, etc, screen names) would be useful for everyone.

The idea is that bringing together people from Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow, and other far flung and exotic places helps build relationships that continue long after the event. Meeting and learning from interesting and interested people is more fun than sitting down to hear from a small set of speakers. In short, an unconference sounded like a fun and useful thing to put together. Who knows what it will lead to?

Who organised it?

Well, the nature of an unconference is that all the participants play an important role in making it happen. But if you’re asking who facilitated and booked it, Philip Trippenbach, Mark Simpkins, David Hayward (College of Journalism) and I have all played our parts in making it happen. It was Philip’s brainchild, with David playing a huge role in organising the logistics of the food (which Simon Nelson sponsored) and the venue.

Why is it being held in White City?

It had to be somewhere, and White City has a lot of conference space. It’s reasonably central and since we happen to work near there it was the easiest place to organise it. Perhaps the next one will be somewhere else.

How does it work?

There’s no fixed agenda. The day will begin with an empty grid on a whiteboard, representing a few rooms and a series of 20 minute time slots which need to be filled by whoever wants to host a conversation about something. The first item of business at 10am is to fill the grid.

Leading up to the event, an internal wiki has outlined the structure of the day (starting time, slots and breaks) and listed the confirmed attendees. In the style of the Interesting 2008 attendees wiki, people have been sharing things they know about the other attendees, rather than just themselves. The wiki mainly consists of names and roles, with links to personal blogs, Twitter names, and other public presences where we might get to know each other better.

See you tomorrow

I’ll take notes about the externally bloggable stuff (of which there will hopefully be plenty) and feed back how it goes and what I learn.

Update: my notes from the first BeeBCamp

2 replies on “BeeBCamp – what is it?”

  1. What a horrible world unconference is. Conference comes from con (with/together) and ferre (carry), it suggests the carrying of burdens together. Like so much of English, it is a beautiful word, containing lots of information about our history and the way people have seen the world for generations.

    To stick an ‘un’ in front of it to signify that it’s not led from the front is ridiculous etymologically. Will teams in University Challenge have to be sharply told not to ‘unconfer’?

    Conference has always been about listening to each other, not about a single party setting the agenda. If anyone needs a different word to distinguish the two styles, let me suggest that the hierarchical, structured type is the one that receives the new name. Perhaps “Edictary”, or following the Papal tradition a “Bull”, or an “Apocalypse” (a revealing/unveiling).

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